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How much supervision is enough? - Page 2

post #21 of 28
Quote:

Not to be a Debby Downer but we had a CPS investigation launched on us when our 5 year old left the house one morning to walk around the block on her own.  We had the 7 am rule as well - she could play quietly until then upstairs.  She never gave us a reason to suspect she'd leave.  We heard her go into the hall to te bathroom and figured she went back to her room to draw like any other day.  She snuck downstairs and went out the back door.  We found her a few mins later (she left a few minutes prior to 7) but a neighbor called the police to report a wandering child, and they opened a case for possible neglect.  That was the ONLY reason.  Our home was clean, the kids well dressed, very nice neighborhood, intact family, private preschools, up to date on ped visits, everything.  They closed it a few months later after several legally required home visits, but it's pretty much traumatized me.  We alarmed the doors, the stairs, everything.  We even invited a police officer to our home to discuss the dangers of leaving alone and he said they can legally call CPS if a child under 12 is unsupervised.  I am constantly watching my back now.  And for what?  A 5.5 year old took a walk around the block alone, wasn't lost, wasn't hurt... Blah. ={

 

 

I just wanted to reframe the comment about CPS. I am a huge free-range kids proponent (Yay Leonore!) but when I read that comment what I thought was, how wonderful that your neighbors actually care enough to look out for your child! If I saw a small child (and I consider 5.5 to be a small child) outside on the street/sidewalk at 7am with no one around I'd be concerned too! That said, I would hope that if it were my neighbors they'd know me and my child well enough to go outside, get the child and bring them home or at the very least call me to say, "Did you know that your daughter is outside having a stroll?" It sounds like in this instance the neighbor didn't know who the child was or where she belonged and so did what seemed sensible, which would be to alert authorities. I would have felt comfortable approaching and saying, "Do your parents know where you are?" etc, but not everyone feels comfortable doing that -- often they're afraid of being sued for interfering with someone's kids!

 

My mother in law is a social worker and I know they are only too happy to visit and then let these sorts of things go. Mistakes happen, but what happens far more often is that people turn a blind eye when they shouldn't and it's the kids who suffer.

post #22 of 28

From the horse's mouth:

 

"While State statutes vary, most CPS professionals agree that children under the age of 8 who are left alone are being neglected. It is also agreed that children older than 12 are able to spend 1 to 2 hours alone each day. In determining whether neglect has occurred, the following issues should be considered, particularly when children are between the ages of 8 and 12:

 

  • The child's physical condition and mental abilities, coping capacity, maturity, competence, knowledge regarding how to respond to an emergency, and feelings about being alone.
  • Type and degree of indirect adult supervision. For example, is there an adult who is checking in on the child?
  • The length of time and frequency with which the child is left alone. Is the child being left alone all day, every day? Is he or she left alone all night?
  • The safety of the child's environment. For example, the safety of the neighborhood, access to a telephone, and safety of the home.

 

http://www.dfps.state.tx.us/Child_Protection/About_Child_Protective_Services/investigation.asp

post #23 of 28

It didn't bother me that the neighbor called the police.  It didn't bother me that the police called CPS - as she stated upright she had to.  What bothered me was that CPS then opened up a case that lasted for months, we had home visits, they interviewed other people, etc.  We had to bring our daughter to therapists, were unable to travel, had to be ready at moment's notice for unexpected visits, had to deal with the humiliation of being scrutinized, having the threat looming over my head that if this lady found anything questionable she could take our kids.  The older two, that would have been bad enough, but my helpless nursing 5 month old (at the time) - how does a mother deal with that sort of a threat?  I couldn't figure out what might construe a problem.  We have a crib luckily, but no formula - well, we nurse.  Is this ONE LOAD of laundry in the dryer going to be a problem?  What about if I leave some dishes in the sink overnight because I'd rather nurse the fussy baby - is that going to be looked at as dirty?  (The report later said our house was "very clean" verbatim, so I guess that didn't have an issue.)  Were they going to take issue with the fact that my husband is disabled?  Were they going to take issue with the fact that we have no support system in place in the form of an extended family?  (No grandparents etc.)  I just questioned every little thing, about myself, my family, my parenting.  WHY was I questioning it?  Oh, because they were questioning me.  And making little notes.  And all.  I have never in my life been in any form of trouble, so this was a totally new feeling.  And not a good one.

 

Of course they didn't find anything.  The lady said that we had a "negative number as far as risk assessments go" - I got a copy of every page of reports, records, etc. that I was legally entitled to.  I read every last word, from the police report, to the therapist report, to everything.  I voluntarily got extra "witness statements" from various people we knew in the community who knew me as a parent.  Etc.  But it was still so, so very traumatic.

 

For the record, in this neighborhood kids as young as four regularly roam the neighborhood alone.  I don't think that's something I would even be comfortable with, but hey.  I've had five year olds ring my doorbell before - when I had never seen them before - to invite us to their lemonade stand.  Do I think it's safe to ring the doorbell of a strange adult?  (The parents were more than a block away at the time, so not just sitting outside watching.)  So that's just to put it in context.  We are in a small dead-end type of community (it's almost like a gated community, just no gate!) and literally every house on our street has young children.  The neighbor asked my daughter if she was lost, and she said nope, just taking a walk, and went on her way.  I *still* didn't get upset that she called the cops.  I *still* didn't get upset that the police called CPS; they're mandated reporters.

 

I am TOTALLY baffled, and hurt, and shocked, that CPS then took it and ran with it.  If there had been any scandal in the system, they could have taken our kids.  How would anyone survive that?  Also there was a case in our town a few years back where a CPS worker was fired after going on trial - she was sleeping with the ex-husband of a mother they took the kids from.  They determined it was a case of scandal after he then got arrested and she bailed him out of jail, etc.  They returned the kids to the mother.  I can link you the case in PM if you're interested.  But needless to say, that doesn't put a huge ease on my mind as far as the fool-proof nature of these things.  We luckily had a very reasonable and kind case worker who was very upfront and helpful, but even she has to follow the guidelines once a case is opened.  She can't just close it without a thorough investigation, etc.

 

ETA:  I asked them if letting a child who is five years old sleep in a bedroom down the hall from us is a form of neglect.  The lady just shrugged.  She said if a child is a teenager and they sneak out of their room in the middle of the night, that can be construed as child neglect too, and get the parents in trouble.  Well, then.  What do we do, lock them up?  She suggested alarming the doors.  So we did.  We have alarms everywhere, baby gates everywhere, sirens that go off if the kids go downstairs.  It's like a high security prison.  Sure, we're going overboard here, but NOT doing that, that was neglect?  Oh, I don't know.  It's all a mess.  =/

post #24 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by tiqa View Post
 

It didn't bother me that the neighbor called the police.  It didn't bother me that the police called CPS - as she stated upright she had to.  What bothered me was that CPS then opened up a case that lasted for months, we had home visits, they interviewed other people, etc.  We had to bring our daughter to therapists, were unable to travel, had to be ready at moment's notice for unexpected visits, had to deal with the humiliation of being scrutinized, having the threat looming over my head that if this lady found anything questionable she could take our kids.  The older two, that would have been bad enough, but my helpless nursing 5 month old (at the time) - how does a mother deal with that sort of a threat?  I couldn't figure out what might construe a problem.  We have a crib luckily, but no formula - well, we nurse.  Is this ONE LOAD of laundry in the dryer going to be a problem?  What about if I leave some dishes in the sink overnight because I'd rather nurse the fussy baby - is that going to be looked at as dirty?  (The report later said our house was "very clean" verbatim, so I guess that didn't have an issue.)  Were they going to take issue with the fact that my husband is disabled?  Were they going to take issue with the fact that we have no support system in place in the form of an extended family?  (No grandparents etc.)  I just questioned every little thing, about myself, my family, my parenting.  WHY was I questioning it?  Oh, because they were questioning me.  And making little notes.  And all.  I have never in my life been in any form of trouble, so this was a totally new feeling.  And not a good one.

 

Of course they didn't find anything.  The lady said that we had a "negative number as far as risk assessments go" - I got a copy of every page of reports, records, etc. that I was legally entitled to.  I read every last word, from the police report, to the therapist report, to everything.  I voluntarily got extra "witness statements" from various people we knew in the community who knew me as a parent.  Etc.  But it was still so, so very traumatic.

 

For the record, in this neighborhood kids as young as four regularly roam the neighborhood alone.  I don't think that's something I would even be comfortable with, but hey.  I've had five year olds ring my doorbell before - when I had never seen them before - to invite us to their lemonade stand.  Do I think it's safe to ring the doorbell of a strange adult?  (The parents were more than a block away at the time, so not just sitting outside watching.)  So that's just to put it in context.  We are in a small dead-end type of community (it's almost like a gated community, just no gate!) and literally every house on our street has young children.  The neighbor asked my daughter if she was lost, and she said nope, just taking a walk, and went on her way.  I *still* didn't get upset that she called the cops.  I *still* didn't get upset that the police called CPS; they're mandated reporters.

 

I am TOTALLY baffled, and hurt, and shocked, that CPS then took it and ran with it.  If there had been any scandal in the system, they could have taken our kids.  How would anyone survive that?  Also there was a case in our town a few years back where a CPS worker was fired after going on trial - she was sleeping with the ex-husband of a mother they took the kids from.  They determined it was a case of scandal after he then got arrested and she bailed him out of jail, etc.  They returned the kids to the mother.  I can link you the case in PM if you're interested.  But needless to say, that doesn't put a huge ease on my mind as far as the fool-proof nature of these things.  We luckily had a very reasonable and kind case worker who was very upfront and helpful, but even she has to follow the guidelines once a case is opened.  She can't just close it without a thorough investigation, etc.

 

ETA:  I asked them if letting a child who is five years old sleep in a bedroom down the hall from us is a form of neglect.  The lady just shrugged.  She said if a child is a teenager and they sneak out of their room in the middle of the night, that can be construed as child neglect too, and get the parents in trouble.  Well, then.  What do we do, lock them up?  She suggested alarming the doors.  So we did.  We have alarms everywhere, baby gates everywhere, sirens that go off if the kids go downstairs.  It's like a high security prison.  Sure, we're going overboard here, but NOT doing that, that was neglect?  Oh, I don't know.  It's all a mess.  =/


Exactly what constitutes neglect? The problem is and this comes from a CPS worker I have spoken to is that it varies depending on the CPS employee. Some do in fact mark against you for having some dishes in the sink (i know a woman who was re inspected over and over because of this) They can in fact use nursing against you if they deem you "arent doing it right" again the problem with the "system" is that it is grossly subjective and over reactionary. In my social work courses in school and from speaking with CPS myself 75% of cases investigated are really these trivial someone called on someone they didnt like, fabricated stories, or vastly blown out proportion situations. I agree some children are subjected to horrid conditions by horrid people but nothing NOTHING in the world feels as bad as being a good parent and being treated like a criminal by the state!

post #25 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by lrj85 View Post
 


Exactly what constitutes neglect? The problem is and this comes from a CPS worker I have spoken to is that it varies depending on the CPS employee. Some do in fact mark against you for having some dishes in the sink (i know a woman who was re inspected over and over because of this) They can in fact use nursing against you if they deem you "arent doing it right" again the problem with the "system" is that it is grossly subjective and over reactionary. In my social work courses in school and from speaking with CPS myself 75% of cases investigated are really these trivial someone called on someone they didnt like, fabricated stories, or vastly blown out proportion situations. I agree some children are subjected to horrid conditions by horrid people but nothing NOTHING in the world feels as bad as being a good parent and being treated like a criminal by the state!

I think the worst thing about the system is that a lot of real abusers are really good at hiding their tracks. I know people who were abused as kids, CPS/the police came in and decided it was a good home with fit parents (I don't remember if the kids were too terrified to speak out or if what they said was ignored, I'm sure both happen). So kids who really need help get ignored because abusers spend time keeping the house clean and threatening their children to keep quiet, and families that are doing well get threatened over dirty dishes because they think their kids' well being is more important than an empty sink.

post #26 of 28

Right, and that's a terrible shame.  But there are a few issues at play here:

 

1.)  How do you disprove a negative?  They could prove a person beat his kids, but it's harder to prove that a person did NOT beat his kids.  Or even more, that they did not NEGLECT their kids.

2.)  Once you get accused of CPS, everyone is going to be a little more suspicious.  "Well, I never thought they would SEEM like abusers, but these people are professionals - they wouldn't open a case if there wasn't really good reason to.  Maybe this family is really good at hiding abuse.  Those poor kids.  I never would have thought.  Come to think of it, two years ago I did see Johnny with a bruised face, we believed that he had fallen off the swings, but maybe they were lying, hmm, I better tell the CPS worker about that *just in case* it's evidence and poor Johnny needs help..."

3.)  Most people assume that if they were mistakenly accused of neglect/abuse, they would show the social worker their comfy home and happy kids, they would all laugh and have a cup of tea, and off they would go.  (I *definitely* fell into this camp!!)  But that isn't the case all the time.

 

I don't want to turn this into (any more of a) "let's hide and freak out about CPS" thread.  Because ultimately that wasn't the OP's intention, clearly.  BUT since that can of worms was opened, I think it's really important that it's on people's radars.  Put yourself in the position of an outsider looking in.  *You* know (or think, or trust) that a situation is appropriately supervised.  You think the situation can be trusted.  That your neighbors look out for your kids.  Whatever.  And then imagine someone coming in, an "expert", and just basically observing that situation from the outside.  Would they approve?  Would they disapprove?  It puts everything in a different light for me - and absolutely ties back to the OP's question.  It doesn't say much for the current laws or procedures, but I don't know what else could be done either.  There ARE kids who need help, and ultimately it's these people who fight to get them help.  So I mean, I see both sides of the issue.  Just make sure that if you get put in this sort of a situation where you're faced by pure chance or misfortune to be the victim (yes victim) of an investigation, have plans of how you'll prove your innocence - especially if you're on the "free range" side of the spectrum with your kids.

post #27 of 28
Quote:
 

It isnt the nosy old ladies that you have to worry about I think....When you dash into the gas station to pay leaving your children in the car alone you run the risk of some whacko making off with the car with them in it or just them...My aunt made this mistake with my cousin in the car...he was 6 and luckily he knew enough to take a jump out when the guy got distracted on the highway or who knows if we would have ever seen him again..As for leaving your children home alone would you really take that chance with such young children? No matter how much you trust your 7 year old with your 16 month old she would never be able to save her from an intruder or a wild animal ect....I wouldn't risk it...not judging you just thinking about what could happen..In the 80's there was a child in the same state as I that was left home by mom because she just didn't want to take her out into the cold while she ran to the corner market..She even locked the door...she came home to the door beaten in and the little girl gone..they found her body the next day..I won't tell you what that person did to that baby...

 

I would never risk such young children...Take them with you....

Isn't it just as likely that a "wacko" would pull me out of the car, or put a gun in my face as they would break a window of a locked car in a gas station?  I was not talking about leaving them home alone yet, but I have big dogs and have never been afraid of wild animals coming after my children in the suburbs.  I know children get kidnapped- and women get raped, and children eat poison or injure themselves or their siblings when their parents are in the next room, and whole families are killed by wackos.  However, I choose not to live my life assuming that will happen.  My mother died in a car accident, but I still drive.  I want my children to have some freedom; I do not want them to grow up being afraid of everything, just because it has happened at some time.  I know CPS is crucial for many children.  I am glad they exist, but geez- something has gone wrong in the supervision thing.  Did any of your parents hover over you like they were a helicopter when you were 8, 9, 10?  I am the oldest of 4- we had hours of freedom- and I value it so much.  I find it utterly tragic that it will be VERY difficult to replicate that for my daughters in our over-paranoid world.  If you look at statistics, there are not more kidnappings now, just more hysteria about them.  Your kids are much more likely to be harmed by someone you think is safe to "supervise" them than they are by a stranger or a wild animal.

post #28 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by CA Country Girl View Post
 

Isn't it just as likely that a "wacko" would pull me out of the car, or put a gun in my face as they would break a window of a locked car in a gas station?  I was not talking about leaving them home alone yet, but I have big dogs and have never been afraid of wild animals coming after my children in the suburbs.  I know children get kidnapped- and women get raped, and children eat poison or injure themselves or their siblings when their parents are in the next room, and whole families are killed by wackos.  However, I choose not to live my life assuming that will happen.  My mother died in a car accident, but I still drive.  I want my children to have some freedom; I do not want them to grow up being afraid of everything, just because it has happened at some time.  I know CPS is crucial for many children.  I am glad they exist, but geez- something has gone wrong in the supervision thing.  Did any of your parents hover over you like they were a helicopter when you were 8, 9, 10?  I am the oldest of 4- we had hours of freedom- and I value it so much.  I find it utterly tragic that it will be VERY difficult to replicate that for my daughters in our over-paranoid world.  If you look at statistics, there are not more kidnappings now, just more hysteria about them.  Your kids are much more likely to be harmed by someone you think is safe to "supervise" them than they are by a stranger or a wild animal.

The difference is people would say "Oh that poor woman, she was attacked by that horrible person!" instead of "She left those poor defenseless babies all alone, what a horrible mother!!"  Leaving out the part where if she had left them home alone for 7 minutes they most likely would have been perfectly safe :)

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